A recent comment came to the front desk of Kalahari — this year’s Class 18 Best of Aquatics winner — from a frequent guest. She wanted to let the general manager know that “the gentleman who I always see picking up debris in the parking lot is such a nice and friendly man.” That “nice gentleman” just happened to be Todd Nelson, CEO of Kalahari Waterpark Resort Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

That top-down spirit of service has been the resort’s hallmark since it doubled its size and re-opened in 2002 as “America’s largest indoor waterpark.” Also doubling in size was its staffing and guest capacity, requiring Kalahari to invest a vast amount of time in increased training programs.

Kalahari aims to continue leading the industry with the newest features, including the only indoor surfing machine in the country. Other facilities include a traditional indoor pool, three outdoor pools, six hot tubs, two lazy rivers, a wave pool, two vortex pools and 18 water slides. Surf lessons and lifesaving courses are available as well.

Kalahari encourages visitors to participate in its teamwork, too. In respect to its African theme, the resort partners with the Noel Group in raising funds to help build a self-sustaining African village for surviving families of AIDS victims. An in-room video and collateral materials are available to visitors. Upon entering the park, they can toss donations into the mouths of rhino sculptures.